Monday, September 20, 2010

It Turns Out That I've Been A Jerk Forever

Here's my one lasting contribution to the 90's Connecticut indie rock scene: the Explodee/Nevertheless split 7", which came with the 5th issue of Brushback. And when I say "lasting" I mean only that I still have some copies laying around, and not "lasting" in the sense of any indelible impression this record might've made... although, to this day, I still think this record's pretty good. If nothing else, it served as a useful calling card for the style of music I most wanted Brushback to represent, that being big fuzzy indie rock with hooks.

Originally this was going to be a split between two Waterbury bands, Nevertheless and Farmertan, with the sleeve being a nod to the Hüsker Dü/Replacements rivalry-- the "New Day Rising" sunset with Farmertan written in Hüsker Dü-type lettering on one side, and Nevertheless sitting on an apartment roof, "Let It Be" style, on the other. I'd even driven around Waterbury a bunch of times, looking for the right type of roof to use for the Nevertheless photo. Farmertan took too long getting their song recorded, though, so that idea had to be scrapped. Luckily, Greg Vegas stepped forward and let me use a song from a new band of his that was just getting started, Explodee, which was fine by me because Monsterland were easily one of my favorite Connecticut bands of all time.

Explodee were a sort-of mini-supergroup, comprised of Greg Vegas (Monsterland), Bill Knapp (76% Uncertain and a bunch of other bands, now of Singing Bridges and Skipping Stones Records), and Joey Maddalena (Names For Pebbles, now of Crooked Hook and Mountain Movers). They had a home-recorded demo which they eventually figured on replacing with a better recording, so they weren't really handing it out to anybody, just using it to get shows and so forth. Greg didn't even have an extra copy of the demo to lend me; I picked which song I was going to use by sitting in his car and listening to the demo on the tape deck, and though all of the songs were good, "Novelty" fairly charged out of the speakers. Bill Knapp's drum track sounded so good that I even decided to use an extra mastering step (going to Metropolis Mastering in Chicago) in order to retain as much fidelity as possible at the pressing stage, but in the end I don't think the drums sound as good on the record as they did on the demo tape.

Nevertheless, on the other hand, had been around for a while, had broken up, and then re-formed with a slightly different lineup. The new demo they'd recorded (with Mike Deming at the semi-legendary Studio .45 in Hartford) wasn't nearly as awesome as any of the demos they'd recorded with the original line-up-- most of which I still have, by the way-- but it was still pretty good, in any case. I think it was my idea to add Brian Sinclair's phone messsage to the beginning of the song, since it wasn't on the original demo. I also took the artwork that Nevertheless gave me for the sleeve and insert and chopped it up to my own liking, though the Explodee design and insert are just as Greg had given them to me.

375 copies were pressed, but only a couple hundred saw the light of day, as the rest were ruined in a shoddy basement somewhere. I had the bright idea to use Brooklyn Dodgers baseball players as catalog numbers, so this one is numbered "Carl Furillo"; I think the next one, a pink vinyl repress of the Grand Passion single, was numbered "Erskine", or maybe "Erskine" was going to be the M.O.T.O. EP which was never finished. The "Sub Pop band passing through" on Brian Sinclair's voice message was Chixdiggit, who ended up playing a basement show at the townhouse that Damien Pratt and some of the other guys in Nevertheless had at 491 Meadow St. in Waterbury ("Local 491"). The runout groove inscriptions are actually a jab at Chixdiggit, for being Canadian; I've never been one to pass up an obscure reference for the sake of a lousy joke, obviously.

Most likely anyone who hears this record now will be one of the first people (besides myself) to have listened to this record over the last 12-13 years or so, so by all means download this to your computer and play the shit out of it, just to make me feel better.

Explodee -


Nevertheless -

"The Priesthood"


Anonymous said...

thnx Dave (I think !) never totally been confortable reviewing some of the Explodee stuff...but it kinda holds up. Too bad we never got out a few of our good ones like "Saki Cured My Cold".....
PS- obvious that Thom was such a better singer and songwriter.

Anonymous said...

also - classic awesomeness froM NEVERTHELESS here. CT's truest unheralded band.

Brushback said...

I've got tons more Nevertheless, which I should be posting eventually. I even still have the Squeaky Fromme "Lighthouse" CD single (on a 3" CD!).

I kinda figured Explodee would be be a bit strange for you to look back on... or at least say, "those were different times"..

Brushback said...

I think my three favorite Monsterland songs are "Sunburn", "Insulation", and "Get Out of My Head" -- I never looked up who wrote 'em, though. Unless it's just whomever wrote them, sings...